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First January 6 Trial of Reffitt Still Has No Call In Line As Judge Uses Worry About Witnesses Like Daughter

By Matthew Russell Lee, Patreon Maxwell Book
BBC - Guardian UK - Honduras - Song

FEDERAL COURT, March 2 –  While January 6 cases like US v. Guy Reffitt have from their beginnings been available to cover by public call-in phone lines, now the US v. Reffitt trial has no call-in line, even after a partial reversal by the presiding judge.

Inner City Press on February 3 requested a public call-in line, in writing, here. It has covering the case from the beginning, here. It continues to cover other January 6 cases, for example US v. Hale-Cusanelli on February 28, here. But also on February 28, jury selection in US v. Reffitt began, with no call-in line.

  Late on March 1, Judge Friedrich docketed this: "MINUTE ORDER. Before the Court is Matthew Russell Lee's email [117] Letter, which the Court construes as an application requesting that the public call-in line be open during trial. The Court just discovered this in its spam email box. For the reasons stated on the record on February 28, 2022, Lee's [117] application for public call-in is DENIED. So Ordered by Judge Dabney L. Friedrich on March 1, 2022. (lcdlf2)."

   But of course, since there had been and still is no call-in line, the basis of Judge Friedrich's decision was not available to Inner City Press. Thanks to a colleague in DC, Inner City Press now has the February 28 transcript, in which Judge Friedrich said: "the public line will be closed during trial under Federal Rule of Evidence 615. Witnesses are excluded from the courtroom so that they cannot hear other witnesses' testimony. This rule serves to prevent one witness from shaping his testimony to match that given by another witness at the trial. Tasty Baking Company v. NLRB, 254 F.3d at 122 to 23. If the public line were to be open, there would be no way to monitor whether trial witnesses were listening by phone. The public line will also be closed during voir dire to respect the privacy of the venire members whose presence is compelled and who must answer questions about their personal lives and views. The Court concludes that the access outlined above is more than sufficient to qualify this trial as an open and public proceeding."

We disagree. The balance between public and unsubstantiated fears about witnesses (or, seemingly, a single witness, Reffitt's unflipped daughter) has been misapplied. We'll have more on this but for now this from the exhibits, and consider this, from CNN:

"Judge Dabney Friedrich will also allow one family member of defendant Guy Reffitt to sit in the courtroom during the proceedings. The decision gives the public, ultimately, more access to the atmospherics of the trial, and will insure everything that is said and done in the courtroom is witnessed by people who are not part of the trial itself. 'The journalists we represent appreciate the court making sure that the public receives in-person accounts of this historic trial, as the First Amendment requires,' attorney Charles Tobin, whose law firm Ballard Spahr who represented a coalition of media groups including CNN, said Tuesday." So a family member can be in, anyway. We fail to appreciate...

Song here.  

For now, we'll report that Judge Dabney Friedrich told prospective jurors to turn off their phones for news alert notifications - an echo of the Sarah Palin v. New York Times fiasco in the Southern District of New York (where the US v. Lev Parnas trial, for example, was available worldwide by call-in line).  

 On the UN beat, with Inner City Press also covers, prospective juror # 16 seems to be the stepson of Kelly Craft,  US Ambassador to the UN under the previous Administration. We'll have more on this. 


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